The archaeological heritage

Definition of archaeological heritage

Archaeological Heritage Bottai Law (1089/1939)

Archaeological assets: assets and movable or immovable evidence of the ancient past, brought to light through technical excavation or not yet found, but whose presence is ascertained in a given place;

Archaeological heritage (Franceschini Commission)

"For the purposes of the law, for the purposes of the law, immovable and movable objects constituting historical evidence of epochs, civilizations, centers or settlements whose knowledge is mainly implemented through excavations and discoveries, are meant by archaeological assets."

The protection of the archaeological heritage

The archaeological heritage by its nature is subjected to risks of various kinds, hence the need, even before the tools of enhancement, to think about the forms of protection. To this end, an important tool was the Convention for the protection of the archaeological heritage signed in London on May 6, 1969, subjected to revision with the European Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, done in Valletta on January 16, 1992 and after 23 years ratified by the Italian state with Law no. 57 of 29/04/2015 (published in the Official Gazette 108 of 12/05/2015)

The Convention, which replaced the previous Treaty of London of 1969, has as its primary objective the conservation and enhancement of the archaeological heritage in urban and planning policies: it mainly concerns the methods of collaboration between archaeologists, urban planners and planners. It formulates guidelines on the financing of excavation, research and publication of the results obtained. The agreement is structured in 18 articles.



Article 1 of the convention provides a definition of archaeological heritage: 

Archaeological Heritage (Art. 1 European Convention for the protection of the Archaeological Heritage)

"All the finds, goods and other traces of human existence in the past are considered as constituting the archaeological heritage:

  • whose preservation and study allow to describe the evolution of the history of man and his relationship with nature;
  • whose main means of information consist of excavations and discoveries, as well as other means of research concerning man and the environment that surrounds him;
  • which are located on territories subject to the jurisdiction of the Contracting Parties.

The archaeological heritage includes structures, constructions, architectural complexes, explored sites, movable property, other monuments and their context, whether they are in the ground or under water. ""

  • Articles 2, 3 and 4 establish the commitments of the states adhering to the convention for the identification and adoption of protection measures
  • Articles 5 and 6 of the Convention establish that the needs for the protection of archaeological evidence must be integrated into the territorial planning programs and that the economic resources for the protection of archaeological evidence, in all its forms (non-destructive investigations, excavation of sites, conservation of the remains and above all publication of the results), must be included in the budget of both public and private works.
  • Articles 7 and 8 refer to commitments relating to the collection and dissemination of scientific information
  • Article 9 of the convention refers to the commitment by the member states to raise public awareness of the value and accessibility of the archaeological heritage
  • Articles 10 and 11 deal with the very important point of preventing the illicit circulation of elements of the archaeological heritage
  • Article 12 refers to mutual scientific technical assistance between the acceding member states
  • Article 13 refers to monitoring the application of the Convention
  • Articles 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 refer to the final clauses of the Convention.


Institutional bodies

The reference institutional body for the Archaeological Heritage is the Directorate-General for Archeology of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism. The management following the reform of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (Ministerial Decree of 23 January 2016) was merged with that of Fine Arts and Landscape. The management has now taken the name of: Directorate-General for Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape.


© Helios Study Center

Archaeological Sicily

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